• Bartricks
    2k
    Well, I don’t share your assumption that our intuitions are somewhat close to reliability to our eyesights . Unlike our intuitions, our eyesight doesn’t get influenced by the place and time period that we grew up in and almost nobody sees something that no one else sees.TheHedoMinimalist

    This misses the point. I have already explained that our faculty of reason does indeed operate differently to our sight. It is a 'faculty' like our sight, but it doesn't operate in the same way. It is operates like a library catalogue.

    And obviously it can be affected by cultural factors. I mean, that's another basis upon which I would discount lots of intuitions.

    You asked me to say when an intuition is debunked. I explained that an intuition is debunked when the best explanation of why we have it does not have to presuppose the reality of its accuracy conditions.

    So, let's say Boris has been brought up in culture A in which they believe women are inferior to men. Boris is not an analytic philosopher - he has no tradition of ruthlessly applying reason to his beliefs. Like most people, he only applies reason to them in a very limited way, and so is likely to simple accept whichever worldview is prevailing and interpret everything through its lense. And he has been told time and time and time again that women are inferior to men - a widespread belief in his male dominated culture - and he lives in a culture in which women are systematically treated 'as if' they are inferior.

    Okay, well, would it be remotely surprising if Boris now has the intuition that women count for less than men? No, of course it wouldn't. We'd positively expect it. For we know that our faculties are corruptible. All of them are. In different ways, granted. But none of them are infallible - including our faculty of intuition.

    So, what's the best explanation of why Boris has that intuition about women? Is it that women are actually morally inferior and Boris's faculty of reason is reliably informing him of this? No, of course not. The best explanation is that he is getting that intuition becusae he's been brainwashed. Does that explanation have to say anything about the actual moral status of women? No. So, Boris's intuition is undermined.
  • Bartricks
    2k
    I’m using a lecture I heard on YouTube as the source. The lecture is called “Intuition in Philosophy 2” and it is given by a philosopher named Kane B.TheHedoMinimalist

    That's not a reliable source. It isn't peer reviewed. He could be anyone. It's really no different to using a post here as a source.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233
    Sorry for the delayed response...ZhouBoTong

    That’s perfectly fine :smile:

    Unless I get a job as a mechanic, being skilled at automotive repair might save me a few hundred dollars a year on maintenance...philosophy seems more important than that (even if the only practical purpose is a more informed vote and a bit of self confidence in one's world view).ZhouBoTong

    Fair enough, I suppose that it depends on your relationship to philosophy and your relationship to cars. Some people have a good relationship with philosophy and they find some useful application to it while others seem to use it somewhat trivially. The same goes for working on cars. Some people don’t even own a car and have no intention of becoming a mechanic. In some cases, both knowledge of philosophy and cars could even be harmful. This is usually as a result of stubbornness and arrogance though. There are some mechanics who think that they could fix a problem in their car or someone else’s car that they can’t actually fix and they end up making things worse for the car. Similarly, there are some philosophers who think they have nothing left to learn about philosophy because they happen to know some things about it already and they might end up holding dogmatic viewpoints that are even worse than the viewpoints of most non-philosophers.

    Shows like "The Voice", "American Idol", etc. have PROVED that the real talent in music is song writing. There are hundreds or thousands of talented, good looking musicians out there. However, very few can write an entertaining piece of music. So don't get too caught up in "practical" skills that you ignore a much more significant talent that you may have.ZhouBoTong

    I agree that I should focus more on songwriting than playing instruments in this day and age of superior computerized instrument recording technology which makes the technical aspects of producing a piece of music with a bunch of different instruments much easier. But, I don’t know if there are more good singers than songwriters out there. I actually know plenty of songwriters who wrote really great songs but they only got around 300 views on YouTube. So, there seems to be lots of great songwriters out there who are simply obscure and their content just gets buried by the YouTube algorithm and it’s impossible to even find their work unless you are already aware of their existence. Anyways, I actually think there could be a TV show called “The Songwriter” where unknown songwriters compete to write the best song. I kinda wonder why no one created such a show already.

    You have described several things that should be considered in the antinatalist discussion. I still think there is a huge overarching "personal preference" that will be the deciding factor for most people. For example, when analyzing the financial costs, someone who really wants kids will justify any cost while those who don't will view all costs as prohibitive.ZhouBoTong

    I agree. I think the reasons that I had mentioned do not really suggest that the right answer to this question will be the same for everyone but I also tend to think that they might change some minds on both sides of the discussion. I think this sort of pros and cons analysis is most useful for the minority of people who do not hold a strong opinion on the matter and they might have a hard time deciding.

    You are that rare (and admirable) person that does not have a nagging personal feeling and is just analyzing the factors involved. I think there is a lot of value in your video series. Both for the other people out there who attempt to make decisions purely based on objective analysis (I really wish there were a lot more people like this...I though I was close, but can certainly see my personal preferences interfering in this case), and just as an objective overview of the argument. It will be particularly useful for those who are new to the antinatalist discussion and may hear some of those factors for the first time (similar to that stanford.plato website).ZhouBoTong

    Thank you, I’m flattered by your compliments :blush: . I agree that there is a greater need to inform people about the various arguments rather than try to simply promote one’s own arguments and ignore arguments that you don’t find convincing. I also agree that Stanford.plato website is one of the best sources for getting a good understanding of a particular specialized topic in philosophy. I sometimes read stuff on there too.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233
    But that's surely not what your intuitions say? Even if it is, it is certainly not what most people's intuitions say. It is normally far, far worse to hit someone else than to hit oneself, other things being equal.

    But you've judged that hitting yourself is worse because your theory says so. My whole point is that this is a topsy turvy way of doing moral philosophy. You're appealing to your theory rather than trying to respect intuitions. Yet any credibility your theory has will ultimately rest on how well it respects intuitions. So why not just cut to the chase and appeal to intuitions about each case, rather than appealing to theories?
    Bartricks

    Well, I think I need to clarify my opinion on this matter a bit more. First, it might be worse to hit another person if hitting another person also cause you to suffer. Normally, when you hit another person for no reason, you could expect to feel guilty or ashamed about doing so. I might reasonably think that it’s better for me to hit myself than it is to hit someone else because I would be causing the other person to suffering and I would also cause myself to suffer from the guilt caused by my action. In addition, I could get arrested and charged for assault. Being in jail could also cause me to suffer and give me an additional reason not to hit someone. Finally, I might also have the person that I hit decide to hit me back and that would be painful as well.

    So, there are both selfish and selfless reasons for why I shouldn’t hit other people but there are only selfish reasons to not hit yourself unless someone else notices you hitting yourself and gets distressed. But, I assumed that you wanted me to isolate away all the selfish reasons for not hitting another person by imagining a case where I wouldn’t feel guilty about hitting them and I’m guaranteed to not be arrested or hit back. In that case, it would still be bad to hit the other person and cause them to suffer but if we imagine a circumstance where me and a stranger get kidnapped by a weird person who tells me that I will be severely tortured unless I either hit myself or hit the stranger, then the only reasons that I would have to choose to hit myself instead of the stranger is that it would cause the stranger suffering and cause me suffering by making me feel guilty. Now, suppose that the kidnapper offers me a magic pill that allows me to avoid feeling guilty about choosing to hit the stranger. In the case, the only reason I would have to not to choose to hit the stranger is that it might cause the stranger to suffer.

    So, it might be better for me to hit the stranger in this highly unrealistic scenario. In any realistic scenario, it might be better to allow yourself to get hit since receiving a punch is less unpleasant than a lifetime of guilt that might result from hitting another person. It’s also worth noting that in the scenario with the kidnapper who forces me to hurt someone else or hurt myself, it’s intuitive to most people to view the action of hitting the innocent stranger as self-defense since it’s the only way that you can protect yourself from suffering. Given this, it is entirely possible that choosing to hit the stranger would be viewed as permissible by many people. Though, it’s also worth considering that I can’t realistically know if the kidnapper would not torture me if I hit someone. He might simply be lying and choose to torture me anyways. So, it’s a bit complicated and there are various things to consider.

    I also interpreted that you might have wanted me to compare the actions of one agent who chooses to hit himself to another agent who chooses to hit someone else. In that case, it’s worth considering that the person who chooses to hit himself might be a masochist and enjoy the pain. Why else would he be hitting himself? If somebody enjoys their pain then I don’t consider their pain to be a form of suffering since I define suffering as “an unenjoyable experience”. So, in that case, that masochistic person might have a reason to hit themselves and doing so would increase their quality of life.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233
    1 is a conceptual truth. I mean, how are you going to deny it? If you're a hedonist, you think happiness is morally valuable, yes?Bartricks

    Yes, but there are many different types of hedonistic theories. Hedonistic Egoism states that only your own happiness matters. Agent Neutral Hedonistic Utilitarianism states that everyone’s happiness matters equally. My theory is somewhere between those 2 extremes. Unlike Hedonistic Egoism, my theory posits that the happiness of others has some positive value. Unlike Agent Neutral Hedonistic Utilitarianism, I don’t think I have as much reason to make a stranger happy as I do to make myself happy. So, premise 1 of your argument seems to only apply to Agent Neutral Hedonistic Utilitarianism which is a theory that I do not support. To use an analogy, you know that there are many different types of divine command theories. There are religious and non-religious divine command theories. Well, there is also many different types of Hedonism. There are literally hundreds of different theories that could be called hedonistic in some regard.

    I believe in a very complicated and particular version of hedonism which is difficult for me to even name. My best attempt at naming it would be calling it “Slightly Egoistic Soft Negative Valance Hedonistic Act Consequentialism”. Every word of that name is philosophically controversial. There is a debate between egoistic consequentialist and agent neutral consequentialists about whether or not we should be completely selfish or almost completely selfless. I lean towards ethical egoism but I also think that the happiness of others has some value. This is why I say that I’m “Slightly egoistic”.

    There’s also a debate among hedonists about whether or not pleasure has more positive value than suffering has negative value. Soft Positive Hedonists say that pleasure usually counts for more than suffering under most circumstances. Soft Negative Hedonists say that suffering usually counts for more than pleasure. I have also encountered some Hard Negative Hedonists that go as far as to say that pleasure has no positive value at all and we should only focus on minimizing suffering. I have never encountered somebody that argued for Hard Positive Hedonism and claimed suffering had no negative value and we should only try to maximize pleasure. This is part of the reason why I find Soft Negative Hedonism more plausible than Soft Positive Hedonism.

    Then, there are also different definitions of pleasure and pain/suffering. My definition of pleasure defines it as any sort of positive valance and defines suffering as any sort of negative valance. Positive and negative valances are experiences that are experienced as being undeniably and unambiguously good and bad respectively. When you know that you are definitely feeling something good, you are experiencing pleasure. The same applies for suffering except it’s bad instead of good. A masochist might enjoy the experience of pain because pain is just a type of sensation. Suffering is the usual reaction to the sensation of pain but it’s not the only reaction that someone might have. The masochist might experience something that he sees as being definitely good while he is in pain and thus he would be experiencing pleasure instead of suffering. He might also experience an ambiguous experience while in pain which seems both good and bad. In that case, the ambiguous experience should be treated like a neutral experience.

    Next, there’s also a debate between act consequentialism and rule consequentialism and trait consequentialism. Act consequentialism states that a person should always perform actions that produce the best consequences. Rule consequentialism states that a person should create and follow general life principles that are likely to lead to the best consequences. So, they don’t think that you should try to calculate the goodness or badness of an outcome. Rather, just follow basic principles that tend to lead to best outcomes. Then, there is trait consequentialism which states that someone should focus on developing their character traits in order to produce the best outcome. I think that Act Consequentialism is the most plausible theory. Then finally, there is also a dispute between Consequentialism and non-consequentialist moral theories. So, it’s a bit complicated and there’s lots of disputes.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.8k
    Just a suggestion -- for ease of reading, break up very long paragraphs into shorter one.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233

    Thanks for the suggestion! :smile:
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233
    And then there's this argument (made by W.D.Ross):

    1. If hedonism is true, then two worlds that contain equal amounts of happiness and pain are necessarily equally good
    2. Two worlds that contain equal amounts of happiness and pain are not necessarily equally good
    3. Therefore hedonism is false.
    Bartricks

    Premise 1 is false for my version of hedonism because my theory does not compare the quality of worlds. Since my theory is egoistical to a decent extent, the goodness and badness of an outcome is agent dependent. This means that a particular outcome cannot be simply good from some sort of a neutral perspective. To give an example of what I mean. Imagine that Josh and Tyler made a bet for $100 and Josh won. The outcome of the bet was good for Josh but bad for Tyler. Now, let me give you a more complicated example which now involves causing suffering to others. Suppose that Steve hits Greg in the face. From the perspective of Steve, the outcome was bad because it made him feel guilty for hitting Greg and it also increased the suffering that Greg has to endure. The suffering involved with him feeling guilty counts for something extra from the perspective of Steve because it happens to be suffering that he has to endure. From the perspective of Greg, the guilt experienced by Steve counts for less because it is not suffering that he has to endure. The suffering that Greg felt from being punched in the face does count for more from his perspective though.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233
    if one were a god and one could create one of those worlds but not the other, then clearly a good god would create the first and not the second. If you deny this, it is only because that's what your theory commits you to - that is, your theory commits you to denying the probative force of those intuitions that conflict with it.Bartricks

    Well, there would be a lot of additional factors to analyze here. First, we need to figure out how creating each world would impact god’s happiness. That should be his first consideration. I’m assuming that you want me to imagine a scenario where both worlds would impact god’s happiness equally. Another consideration that should be made is the room for improvement for both worlds. It may be argued that the world where the wicked people get all the happiness must have a much better environment for producing happiness in order to be hedonistically equal to the world where the virtuous people have all the happiness. This is because pleasure and suffering act as incentives for good and bad behavior. In the world where the wicked get all the happiness, the world is very inefficient at maximizing its potential happiness. If it were to be become more efficient in the future by punishing bad behavior, then it might greatly surpass the world where the virtuous are happy. In that latter world, there is only room for things to get worse. That world has arranged their incentives perfectly to promote good behavior and yet it still can’t surpass the inefficient world. This would imply that god could choose to create a world where the environment is much easier to live in but for some reason he could only put people on there that will arrange their societal structure in a really messed up way.

    Intuitively many people would not blame god for creating the wrong types of people in that world but rather blame the people in that world for their inability to create the right incentives for good behavior in that world and thus they are to blame for making that world hedonistically inefficient. The fact that god created a better environment for that world which allowed it to be equally happy to the efficient world which seems to have a worse environment is the more relevant factor when it comes to praising and blaming god’s actions of creating both worlds in the eyes of most people. Given that god must create a better environment for happiness in the inefficient world where bad behavior is rewarded, I think most people would intuit that god can only be held responsible for making sure that the environment of a world is pleasant. He cannot be held accountable for the incentives for good and bad behavior which are usually governed by human societies. This is because the famous Free Will Defense could be employed as a justification for why god created people who can’t run their societies properly. It was their choice to make the world hedonistically inefficient rather than god’s choice.

    In addition, I’m not sure if we are imagining 2 worlds across their entire span of their existence or if we are imagining 2 worlds across a particular period of time. If you were thinking of the latter scenario, then most people would intuit that the fact that the inefficient world could only get more efficient across time and the efficient world could only get more inefficient across time would imply that we could expect that the inefficient world would be happier in the future. But, if you were imagining the former scenario where the 2 world’s are equally happy by the end of their existence, then I would actually disagree with the intuitions of most people on this. This is because if god knew that the level of happiness of both worlds would be equal in the end, he would have as much responsibility to create wise people that can make their societies efficient as he would to create a pleasant environment for life. I would say that creating the world where the virtuous are happy would be slightly better simply because there is some probability that I’m wrong about my desert eliminativism.

    Desert eliminativism is the view that I hold that the concept of fairness and unfairness has no metaphysical reality behind it. That is to say, no one truly deserves anything or fails to deserve anything. An outcome can never be fair or unfair. This is highly counterintuitive to most people but I have a debunking explanation for those intuitions. The reason why most people think that people can deserve or fail to deserve things is because they had evolved to experience the emotions of anger and indignation. The emotion of indignation has provided an adaptive advantage in the past because it made it less likely that someone would get ripped off and manipulated in some manner. This is actually a point that Peter Singer made in his book called The Expanding Circle. Let me give you some examples where indignation is a useful emotion. In prehistoric times, people lived in small tribes of about 100 people and everyone knew everyone else pretty well. This meant that reputation was pretty important for your survival. If people who wanted to trade with you knew that you were the kind of person who would walk away from the trade if you got too much of a low offer, then they are less likely to try to low ball you. People who feel a greater sense of indignation are more likely to avoid getting scammed in environments where people are aware that you would be greatly offended by any attempt made to rip you off. This emotion of indignation could only come about if people believe that certain things are unfair and that they deserve to be treated a certain way.

    Another example where indignation would be useful is in cases where somebody has wronged you. People who feel that they didn’t deserve to get wronged are more likely to feel anger and take revenge on the person who wronged them. In small tribal settings, people who have a reputation of taking revenge on people are less likely to be wronged in the first place. This is because people who try to wrong others try to target those who won’t fight back. So, it’s seems pretty likely that the concept of fairness is simply an evolutionary adaptation. It’s also worth noting that perceptions of fairness and unfairness can be highly subjective and dependent on your personality. For example, there have been some slaves in the past who were brutally mistreated by their masters but didn’t feel as though they deserved to not be mistreated. On the other hand, there are some spoiled brats who live with their parents at the age of 30 and they feel that it’s unfair for their parents to not buy them a new car for Christmas. I think the best explanation for why there is such a massive difference in intuitions about fairness across people is that those intuitions are really just emotions of anger and indignation and various people have different levels of those emotions.

    But, if you are not convinced by my desert eliminativism, then there is actually another version of hedonism that was first introduced by Fred Feldman called “Desert Adjusted Hedonism”. This form of hedonism argues that the external fact about the deservedness of a particular episode of pleasure and suffering also contributes to its goodness or badness. So, an episode of pleasure that is given to a person who doesn’t deserve it would count for less than an episode of pleasure given to a person who deserves it. This is because those hedonists argue that importance of pleasure is not only about how it feels on the inside but also how it looks from the perspective of an outside observer who is witnessing the behaviors associated with experiencing the pleasure and suffering. Thus, it would entirely possible for some hedonists to say that the extent to which a pleasure matters is dependent on how much a person deserves the pleasure.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233
    That doesn't follow. Plus it is not at all clear what 'complex' and 'simple' mean in this context. For instance, is moral particularism complex or simple? In one sense it is simple, for it denies the truth of any fixed moral rule. But in another sense it is the most complex of all normative theories, for it allows that anything - anything - can, in principle, be morally relevant, which is precisely why rules - which, by their very nature deny this - should be taken with a pinch of salt.Bartricks

    The way I was judging a theory to be simple or complex is based on how long it would take for someone to summarize the viewpoint. It takes me at least a good paragraph to summarize my viewpoint briefly. This could be contrasted with a simple theory like Classical Utilitarianisms which simply states that we should maximize the happiness of the world and it takes me just one sentence to summarize it. Though, it’s also worth noting that my intention for that previous comment was not to argue that simple theories should be dismissed just because they are simple but rather that convoluted theories that are counterintuitive to most people because of their complexity shouldn’t be dismissed just because they are convoluted.
  • Bartricks
    2k
    First, you are changing the example and attacking a straw man.

    By hypothesis the amounts of happiness and suffering are equal in both worlds. So it is no good saying 'ah, but it depends how much happiness and suffering there is'. It's equal. That does for the god too.

    In addition, I’m not sure if we are imagining 2 worlds across their entire span of their existence or if we are imagining 2 worlds across a particular period of time.TheHedoMinimalist

    The former. Again, they contain equal amounts of happiness and suffering.

    The only difference - only difference - is in its distribution. Distribution, not quantity. It's no good pointing out that distributions can affect quantity - yes, often they can. But by definition, not in this case. In this case the distribution - not the quantity - is the only difference between the worlds.

    It's also no good adjusting the theory to deal with the counterexample, for that misses the more general point. Which is this. If you have to adjust your theory to accommodate intuitions, why not just follow intuitions? That is, what's your theory adding?

    You can make your hedonism as complex as you like. The complexity will be to accommodate intuitions. And that's what makes the theory pointless. Just consult your intuitions and the intuitions of others, and discount those intuitions that we have good independent reason to think are unlikely to be accurate (such as those for which a wholly evolutionary account would be the best explanation - which applies, of course, to those intuitions that say procreation is morally ok).

    Sometimes pleasure matters, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes pain is bad, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes we ought to give someone what they deserve, sometimes we ought not. Sometimes it is more important to be a certain sort of person than it is to bring about a certain state of affairs. Sometimes the reverse is true. And on and on.

    How do we figure out what the right thing to do is, then? Well, the method most people actually use: we consult our intuitions.

    Of course, that should not be done unthinkingly either. There are - as I have explained - a lot of intuitions that we have good independent reason to doubt are accurate.

    But that method - trusting our intuitions until or unless we have reason to doubt a particular deliverance of our intuition - is far superior to assuming (and that's all it is, just a brute assumption) that morality is fixed and patterned and then setting about trying to describe the pattern.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233
    Yes, I do. The argument is simple: there are prescriptions of Reason; only an agent can make a prescription; therefore Reason is an agent. And that agent is a god, because the agent who is Reason has the power and knowledge of Reason, which is more power and knowledge than anyone else.Bartricks

    Ok, I need to ask you several clarification questions here. So, what exactly is a prescription of reason? Would you mind explaining that concept a bit more to me. Because it seems rather counterintuitive to me to think of reason as a command or a prescription. The 2nd question I want to ask is what exactly is “the power and knowledge” of reason. I don’t think I have ever heard of anyone saying that someone could have power and knowledge of reason.

    But I have already agreed to that. Anyone who thinks that some intuitions count for more than others has the burden of proof. I have shouldered that burden, though. I have provided a case for thinking some - such as those for which a wholly evolutionary explanation is the most reasonable - lack evidential clout. But so far as I can tell, you have not shouldered the burden - you have not explained why the intiuitions you want to dismiss lack probative force.Bartricks

    Regarding the case of Tom, I had actually given you a debunking explanation that:

    It’s possible that people have moral disgust towards the torture of Tom because human beings evolved to experience moral empathy towards someone getting tortured while not evolving to experience extra strong happiness towards billions of happy people that come as a result. This is because our pre-historic ancestors had no survival advantage by being happy about a world full of billions of happy people who are not their relatives. On the other hand, they had evolved a capacity for empathy towards the pain of a stranger because it made them better at forming cooperative relationships.TheHedoMinimalist

    You responded to this debunking explanation by saying this:

    Yes, I agree with all of that. But I said that if the 'sole' explanation for why we get a moral intuition is an evolutionary one, then that debunks the intuition. If, however, the evolutionary explanation is only partial, then the intuition may retain its probative force.Bartricks

    So, in this comment above, you said that the debunking explanation has to be the “sole” explanation which means there cannot be any other explanation but now you just wrote another comment that is saying this:

    Likewise, the best explanation of why so many of humans get the impression it is morally alright to procreate is the evolutionary one. That explanation does not have to make mention of the actual morality of procreation, and thus it is an explanation that discredits the impressions in question.Bartricks

    So, now you seem to be implying that the debunking explanation doesn’t have to be the sole explanation but rather just the best explanation. In that case, why is my debunking explanation for intuitions that people hold about the case of Tom not the best explanation? You responded by saying this:

    For example, imagine a divine command theory is true (which it is). That is, imagine that moral rightness and wrongness are prescriptions of a god, prescriptions that our rational intuitions give us some insight into.

    Now imagine that the god is benevolent (which she is). Well, it seems reasonable to suppose that a benevolent god would issue prescriptions that would benefit us: that is, that she'd want us to do thrive and form meaningful relationships and all that stuff. If we follow prescriptions of that sort, then we're also likely to be more reproductively successful than those who did not.

    In this case, then, we have a divine explanation for why it might be that living in accordance with many moral prescriptions has, in the main, proved to be adaptive. And in this case the explanation does not debunk the intuitions at all.
    Bartricks

    So, how exactly do you know that a benevolent god would issue a prescription that we shouldn’t torture Tom? Also, how do you know that benevolent god would issue a prescription against procreation? It’s entirely possible for a pro-natalist to respond to your debunking explanation for their intuitions by just saying this:

    Now imagine that the god is benevolent (which she is). Well, it seems reasonable to suppose that a benevolent god would issue prescriptions that would benefit us: that is, that she'd want us to do thrive and form meaningful relationships and all that stuff. If we follow prescriptions of that sort, then we're also likely to be more reproductively successful than those who did not.

    In this case, then, we have a divine explanation for why it might be that living in accordance with many moral prescriptions has, in the main, proved to be adaptive. And in this case the explanation does not debunk the intuitions at all.
  • Bartricks
    2k
    On the other hand, there are some spoiled brats who live with their parents at the age of 30 and they feel that it’s unfair for their parents to not buy them a new car for Christmas.TheHedoMinimalist

    I don't think they're spoilt. Parents owe their children everything. I didn't choose to be born. My parents should pay for everything. They had me, they're responsible - if I need a car, they should buy me one. A house - one of them too. All my food. Everything. It's the least they can do. I owe them nothing; they owe me everything. Where's my mistake?
  • Bartricks
    2k
    Ok, I need to ask you several clarification questions here. So, what exactly is a prescription of reason? Would you mind explaining that concept a bit more to me. Because it seems rather counterintuitive to me to think of reason as a command or a prescription.TheHedoMinimalist

    But I didn't say 'reason is a prescription'. Reason is the prescriber. Big difference.

    I am a prescriber. I am not a prescription!

    There are prescriptions of Reason. They're often called 'norms'.

    For instance "if an argument is valid and its premises true, then believe its conclusion is true" is a prescription of Reason.

    Laws of logic are prescriptions of Reason.

    Epistemic norms are prescriptions of Reason.

    Moral prescriptions are prescriptions of Reason.

    Instrumental prescriptions are prescriptions of Reason.

    They're subtly different, but they're all prescriptions.

    A prescription, note, is some kind of a directive, a telling, an expressed favouring.

    Again, the claim is not that Reason is a prescription. The claim is that there are prescriptions of Reason. And that isn't counter-intuitive - how could it be? For rational intuitions are themselves about such prescriptions.
  • Bartricks
    2k
    The 2nd question I want to ask is what exactly is “the power and knowledge” of reason. I don’t think I have ever heard of anyone saying that someone could have power and knowledge of reason.TheHedoMinimalist

    I don't really understand your question. If Reason is a person, then by definition she has the power and knowledge of Reason.

    What does that consist of? Well, precisely what it is involves is debatable. But what's not debatable is that it is considerable.

    For instance, she - Reason - determines what's right and wrong. Now that's considerable power, yes?

    Reason determines when a belief is justified (for 'being justified' just involves a belief being one that Reason approves of you holding). That's considerable power too.

    I think - but this would need arguing - that Reason determines what's true. If that's correct, then she's omnipotent, for what more power could anyone have than having the power to determine what's true?
  • Bartricks
    2k
    So, now you seem to be implying that the debunking explanation doesn’t have to be the sole explanation but rather just the best explanation.TheHedoMinimalist

    You're seeing inconsistency where there is none.

    Starting with 'best' - by a 'best' explanation I mean the most reasonable one. I do not mean 'the only possible one'. There may be lots and lots of possible explanations for why X is the case, but they're not necessarily equally reasonable.

    When I used the phrase 'sole explanation' I meant something quite different. A 'sole' explanation, as I was using the word (and I am not suggesting it was the best word to use - 'complete' may have been better), contrasts with one that is partial. So, let's say that the explanation of why the match is alight is that it was struck against a matchbox. That is a correct explanation, but it is not complete one. A fuller one would mention that I struck it against the matchbox in order to light a candle.

    So, applied to the evolution of our intuitions, if a sole evolutionary explanation of an intuition is best, then that debunks the intuition. I explained as well why this is. It is because the best explanation makes no mention of the intuition's accuracy. But an evolutionary explanation could be correct, yet not complete. It could be more reasonable to think of the evolutionary explanation as partial.

    For the record, I think all - all - of our moral intuitions have evolutionary explanations. But I think in many cases the evolutionary explanations in question, though correct, are more reasonably believed to be partial - they are like the 'the match is alight because it was struck against a matchbox' variety) - rather tan sole.

    So, when we have good reason to believe that an evolutionary explanation of an intuition is a complete explanation of it, then we have good reason to believe that the intuition lacks probative force.

    That doesn't mean that all evolutionary explanations debunk intuitions. It means 'some' do, namely those we have reason to believe are sole.

    What you're doing, it seems to me, is thinking that if it is just possible to give an evolutionary explanation, then it is both the best and sole explanation. That's just false
  • Bartricks
    2k
    So, how exactly do you know that a benevolent god would issue a prescription that we shouldn’t torture Tom? Also, how do you know that benevolent god would issue a prescription against procreation?TheHedoMinimalist

    We're going in circles. I have explained why it is reasonable to think the god is benevolent to some extent. And I explained why a benevolent person would not have created a world like this and made innocent people live in it. And I explained why a benevolent person would not want us to do the same - would not want us, who live in it, to force others to join us.

    I'll do so again. First, why is it reasonable to believe the god is benevolent? (Note, don't change this to 'know' - I don't 'know' that the god is benevolent, I simply think it is more reasonable than not to believe her to be, given the evidence).

    Here's why. This is slightly complex. First step: we know - know - that there are prescriptions of Reason enjoining us to believe what is true. How can we know that? Because we have intuitions representing us to believe what is true and if you try and make a case against the probative force of those intuitions you will have to presuppose that they 'do' have probative force. So, it is self-refuting to try and argue that it is true that there are no prescriptions of Reason enjoining us to believe what is true. The intuition that we have reason to believe what is true is not debunkable, then.

    Step 2: we live in a world in which it is extremely useful to believe what is true. Yes, there are occasional exceptions. But they stand out because they are the exceptions. In the main, believing what is true - and applying one's reason to the world to figure out what is true - means you do better than those who do not. If you don't believe me, try it. Stop listening to your reason - stop trying to figure out what's true and just blunder about. I don't think you'd survive 24 hours. So, it is damn useful to believe what's true and to use one's reason to try and figure it out.

    Now, given that we know that Reason is a person who is encouraging us to acquire true beliefs, and know as well that this is an extremely beneficial thing for us to do, we can now conclude that she's benevolent to some degree. For that seems to be a benevolent thing to do - to encourage us to believe what's true in a world in which believing it stops you suffering and dying.

    I stress: that is not a proof. Maybe she's not benevolent and had some other reason to encourage us to acquire true beliefs about the world we are living in. But it is a reasonable conclusion to draw.

    So, it is reasonable to believe Reason is benevolent.

    Now, why do I think she doesn't want us to procreate? Numerous reasons, one being: because she's benevolent!

    A thought experiment: imagine you wake up one morning to find that you are in a prison. You are surrounded by dangerous people. Some of your fellow inmates are nice, but a lot are not. And this seems like a generally dangerous place. Would a benevolent person bring children into such a place for some company? No, of course not. That's not a benevolent thing to do - it's a selfish thing to do. Would a benevolent person want you - you, the inmate - to do that selfish thing? No.

    Benevolent people do not create worlds like this and then force innocent people to live in them. So she - Reason - hasn't.

    Benevolent people, upon finding themselves living in worlds like this one, do not selfishly force others to live in it with them. Nor do they approve of others doing so. So Reason, being benevolent, does not approve of us procreating.
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    I suppose that it depends on your relationship to philosophy and your relationship to cars. Some people have a good relationship with philosophy and they find some useful application to it while others seem to use it somewhat trivially. The same goes for working on cars.TheHedoMinimalist

    Well, I may have gone too far, haha. It seems safe to say that fixing cars is more practical than philosophy. But thanks for understanding my point that individually, what is "practical" can vary quite a bit.

    Similarly, there are some philosophers who think they have nothing left to learn about philosophy because they happen to know some things about it already and they might end up holding dogmatic viewpoints that are even worse than the viewpoints of most non-philosophers.TheHedoMinimalist

    This is an unfortunate problem that we all need to worry about. I am quick to admit that I have a lot to learn, but I still get stuck in certain opinions that can almost become dogmatic. Those who "know it all" will be even more stuck.

    I actually know plenty of songwriters who wrote really great songs but they only got around 300 views on YouTube. So, there seems to be lots of great songwriters out there who are simply obscure and their content just gets buried by the YouTube algorithm and it’s impossible to even find their work unless you are already aware of their existence.TheHedoMinimalist

    They (the obscure song writers) just need a pretty person with a relate-able back story to be the front person. Oh and don't forget a few million dollars for promotion.

    Youtube creates a new avenue to music stardom, but there is hardly a worn path. I am sure there are more, but I can only name Justin Bieber as a musician who became famous because of youtube....oh and that girl who sang the terrible "It's Friday" song...I still think the only consistent path to music stardom is promotion by a record label...unless you have your own millions.

    Anyways, I actually think there could be a TV show called “The Songwriter” where unknown songwriters compete to write the best song. I kinda wonder why no one created such a show already.TheHedoMinimalist

    I think it is because media does not sell dreams of growing up to write music for a celebrity. They sell dreams of singing in front of 50,000 screaming fans. Similarly, people dream of hitting a home run in the world series, not coaching the guy that hit the home run. I am not saying this is the way things should be, but they are. Remember the movie where the whole world forgets the Beatles music? Why doesn't the guy just write songs? He could have been super rich without all the hassles of celebrity status...but that is not what most people want.

    I agree. I think the reasons that I had mentioned do not really suggest that the right answer to this question will be the same for everyone but I also tend to think that they might change some minds on both sides of the discussion. I think this sort of pros and cons analysis is most useful for the minority of people who do not hold a strong opinion on the matter and they might have a hard time deciding.TheHedoMinimalist

    Agreed. And I did not mean to say I do not find this sort of exercise valuable. I definitely like to weigh all of my options similar to how you have described...I just don't think I could predict other people's decisions based on my decision process because they have different values...but that seems separate from your point that analyzing the pros and cons is useful, which must be true.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    233
    I still think the only consistent path to music stardom is promotion by a record label...unless you have your own millions.ZhouBoTong

    I agree, exposure takes a lot of money usually.

    I think it is because media does not sell dreams of growing up to write music for a celebrity. They sell dreams of singing in front of 50,000 screaming fans.ZhouBoTong

    I agree, I think people are more attracted to the idea of being a performer who is more admired rather than some nerd behind a desk who writes songs for performers. It’s somewhat unfortunate though.
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    I agree, I think people are more attracted to the idea of being a performer who is more admired rather than some nerd behind a desk who writes songs for performers. It’s somewhat unfortunate though.TheHedoMinimalist

    I entirely agree it is unfortunate. As much as people are moved by music, songwriting is a vital talent. I guess I tend to think the people behind the scenes in any industry deserve more of the credit (in the case of songwriting, the writer should get MOST of the credit).

    I am more impressed by writing (generally), because for every Heart, Journey, Aretha Franklin, or Janis Joplin (people with powerful AND unique voices that define their songs), there are hundreds of Sinatra types (good voice, but any decent singer can make those songs sound good).
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